SHORT-LIVED ZAND DYNASTY 373
Prince of Georgia had made a treaty of peace, by the
terms of which the Aras was to serve as the boundary
of Persia. In Southern Persia another pretender was
Ali Mardan, a Bakhtiari chief, who obtained possession
of Isfahan in the name of a puppet Safavi prince termed
Ismail, and placed him on the throne.
Karim Khan, Zand.—A fourth pretender was Karim
Khan, son of Aymak of the Zand, a section of the Lak
tribe.1 Born to no high position, Karim had served Nadir
as a soldier without special distinction. He often told
how, being in want, he had stolen a gold-embossed saddle
from a saddler's shop, but learning that the saddler had
been sentenced to be hanged on account of its loss, he
was conscience-stricken and restored it; and he heard with
pleasure the prayer of the saddler's wife that the man
who brought the saddle back might live to have a hundred
gold-embossed saddles. At the period to which this
anecdote relates Karim was evidently a private soldier,
but when we first hear of hup. at Isfahan he had, by sheer
force of character, risen to power, and had joined the
Bakhtiari chief on equal terms. As invariably happened
in such combinations, jealousies arose and Ali Mardan
marked down the Zand for death. The ktter, however,
rode off with his following, and shortly after the rupture
the Bakhtiari was assassinated. Karim Khan thereupon
became the sole ruler of Southern Persia, and by his
kindness, generosity, and justice won all hearts.
The Triangular Contest for Power.—The position in
Persia was extremely curious* Khorasan was left in the
undisturbed possession of Shah Rukh, while Karim Khan,
Mohamed Husayn Khan, and Azad fought for the throne.
Each in turn seemed likely to win, but the final victory
lay with the popular Zand chief.
The opening battle was fought between the Zand and
the Kajar on the borders of Mazanderan. After a hot
contest the Kajar won, but was unable to pursue owing
to the advance of the Afghan. The latter had invaded
Gilan, but on hearing of the victory of the Kajar retreated.
1 This ancient Aryan, tribe has its pastures in the vicinity of Shiraz. I met
a section to the south of Kerman, vide Ten Thousand Mllt^ etc., p. 428,